THE ART OF LIVING, AGAIN

WHERE TO BUY ART IN REGIONAL AND RURAL ONTARIO

Has the pandemic and WFH (working from home) made you rethink where and how you want to live? Encouraged the move to greener pastures? Change the way you see your living space as an opportunity; DIY project; or blank canvas?

By now it’s likely you have come across multiple reports and features about individuals and families who have made the great “Zoom Boom” – trading their routine encounter with the office Ficus for freedom, in the hopes to live a more fulfilling and essentially, “curated” life.

Paul Thek, Untitled, 1976 (landscape; Penmate Composition notebook) | Credit: WikiArt.org

Zoom Boom or Bust

Some of these cohorts have opted to shed all of their belongings, and tough it out in unknown terrain, from the Winnebago to the Wi-Fi, moving across country or continent. Others instead, have relocated to the burbs or the bush, ready to convert their quaint farmhouse, schoolhouse, or old abandoned community church into the crowning jewel Architectural Digest, TL, Pinterest and more effuse as a reality.

Whether you’re in the former camp or the latter – or in my case, avoiding “camp” or rather, camping, entirely – learning to live with more or less, the rationale is, more or less, the same: what matters and why?

Naturally, as an artist, I have an inherent bias where art fits into the “it matters” category. Not exclusively from a promotional respect, but more in art’s ability to express our beliefs and feelings about ourselves and life right back to us in a way words can’t, or at least with immediacy, inwardly. To “storehouse” our experiences, events and thoughts – be it past, present and potentially future – remarkably, and with vitality. I mean, isn’t that what our shared photos and videos do? Spare us from searching for the right words or metaphors to relate and relive the nuances of a particular moment whenever we want, however we want? In the new lease, or mortgage, of life then, where dream kitchens are being built and campers are being equipped with the barest essentials, it only seems natural to include that which always does more, by more or less.

The Wild, Wild Rest

So what are the best places to buy more and less? Artworks that resonate, delight, and inspire, on or off a Zoom call, available outside of the usual environs? Just about every town or suburb will have their own public gallery – either affiliated with a municipal office, college or university – and at least one commercial gallery. Go to all of them! These galleries will showcase works by its members and the community; regional, historic, in-residence, jury-selected and contemporary artists. There you will discover an old art form, a new art form, an old art form realized in a new way; your neighbour, your neighbourhood and new people that somehow feel as familiar and close as your oldest friends, or fondly, office Ficus. Why is that? Despite how many times we clean the slate, from the city to the scenic, curating the pandemic and post-pandemic way of life, we, as humans, are also collectors. Sometimes however, it takes the countryside and bandwidth to restore the in-keeping from the inbox, the collectible from the clutter, and the “it matters” from the no more or no less.

Map of part of the province of Ontario c. 1882, Copp Clark Company | Credit: Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Conscious Collecting

Consider the following ten galleries for your “conscious collections.”

+ Kawartha Art Gallery, Lindsay Ontario
+ Art Gallery of Bancroft, Bancroft Ontario *
+ Colborne Street Gallery, Fenelon Falls Ontario
+ Rails End Gallery & Arts Centre, Haliburton Ontario
+ Corner Gallery, Haliburton Ontario
+ Art Gallery of Northumberland, Cobourg Ontario
+ Headwaters Arts, Alton Ontario
+ Carnegie Gallery, Dundas Ontario *
+ Woodstock Art Gallery, Woodstock Ontario
+ Lee Contemporary Art, Orillia Ontario

* Full disclosure, I will be exhibiting at these galleries in 2021/2022.

Do you have any favourites on the list? Galleries or venues you would like to contribute? Word on neighbourhood spots earning serious local cred? Please leave your insights in the Comments, particularly for those of us who remain “camping cautious.” Thank you.



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